Last year the Chicago Bears played one of their defensive ends inside at tackle for a big part of the season, another performed so well that he's been moved to linebacker, and a third was released as a cost-cutting measure after a lackluster season. The D-Line as a whole had some problems last year. A lack of pressure off the edge allowed opposing quarterbacks to pick apart Chicago's secondary.
The Bears added Lamarr Houston for big money once free agency opened, then they signed Willie Young to a modest contract to play opposite him. The Bears could have stood pat after adding two new starters at DE, but that wasn't in the cards for Chicago general manager Phil Emery. Did anyone see Jared Allen signing with the Bears?
Allen may not have been the high profile day one free agency splash, but he's still a very productive football player. His motor is legendary and his passion is infectious. He'll be as much of a boon in the locker room as he will on the field. Here's a sentence I never thought I'd type: I can not wait to see Jared Allen's calf roping sack celebration.
Houston will allow defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to use him in a variety of ways. He's already been spotted playing some DT during camp, and he has experience lining up as an outside linebacker.
Willie Young didn't have gaudy sack numbers last year, but his 48 quarterback hurries was 3rd in the league in 2013.
These three should receive the bulk of the DE snaps, and hopefully they can remain fresh all season long.
A good bet to make it
It really seems wide open behind the three newcomers. David Bass gained some valuable experience playing 317 snaps as a rookie last year and I could see his upside giving him the edge. He has a lot to tighten up technique wise, but he flashed some speed off the edge.
On the bubble
The Bears have discussed carrying six DEs on the final 53 man roster.
Cornelius Washington is probably the most athletic of the bubble players, but he was a very raw prospect coming out of Georgia last off season. He stuck around last year, but he rarely saw the field.
Tracy Robertson is listed at DE, but he has DT size (6'4", 300). He saw one snap at DT last year for the Bears. His versatility might give him an advantage.
The Bears brought in Austen Lane and Trevor Scott before the free agent frenzy started. Scott seems to be opening more eyes in camp so far. The 6 year veteran has 16.5 sacks on his career and the Bears had him running with the ones a bit.
Do you think the Bears will carry six DEs this season?